This museum post consists of some of the textiles that are displayed in the museum. There are (three?) types of textile treatments for wearable items presented at the museum. In this post I will be covering vadmal. Next week I will cover needle-coiling (nal Binding) and tabby weave.
For those of you who are not aware of vadmal or homespun fabric, it is a twill fabric that can have various patterns.
The examples here are based on a twill pattern. One of the more common patterns looks similar to the fabric in pair of blue jeans. If you look at the inside of most, you can plainly see this pattern.
There are several differing patterns represented in the photographs to follow and will be denoted in the comment under the picture.
Vadmal was the basis of the clothing, bags, tents, sails, and just about everything else where textiles were needed including as trade goods. You will see some examples of the wearables below.
So, lets get too it.
Any descriptions I add here that come directly from the museum placards will be attributed as NMI for The National Museum of Iceland. All others are mine exclusively.
Few textiles have survived from the early centuries of Icelandic history, but remnants of clothing have been found on farm sites and in graves where soil conditions are favorable. (NMI)
The oldest surviving textile fragments in Iceland are sewn from vadmal, woolen woven cloth. The vast majority of garments were made from this material, including gloves. (NMI)
Woollen shoes appear to have been common in the middle ages. From Snoksdalur, West Iceland. probably late medieval. (NMI)
Vadmal, … was Iceland’s most important export until stockfish (dried fish) became predominant in the 14th century. The cloth was of various kinds. Striped vadmal, the better quality hafnarvadmal, and, the most common type, “trade” vadmal, woven to be sold. The cloth was woven as a breadth of two ells (one ell is a little over 50cm). The price of a cow was 90 ells (45 meters) of trade vadmal. (NMI)
Twill fabric is at the heart of this project. I look forward to discussing this textile form in depth with you all. This is still coming up in the future.
The technology and knowledge to produce the fabric that was such a foundation of the culture and economy of Iceland and Greenland, was transported through out the North Atlantic as the Norse traveled and settled various locations.
Without the fabric that could be woven very fine and soft or in the heavy wide panels that were the sails that were the backbone of that travel, vadmal was an indispensable tool. Without it, history would be very different.
Stay tuned for next week’s museum shot as we will continue looking at the textile finds from Iceland. I am excited to show you what else I have found.
In two weeks we will look at the tools the Icelanders used to work their textiles. There are some very good examples of these tools.
And then we get to the metal work and some examples of life away from the textiles1 🙂
Enjoy and be well,